Facts and Myths about Fertile Eggs

There are a few common misconceptions about fertile eggs that will be cleared up in this article, but first, it is important to understand the differences between fertile and infertile eggs as well as incubated and un-incubated fertile eggs.
There are a few common misconceptions about fertile eggs that will be cleared up in this article, but first, it is important to understand the differences between fertile and infertile eggs as well as incubated and un-incubated fertile eggs.

INFERTILE EGGS 

A hen must mate with a rooster in order for her egg to contain both the male and female genetic material necessary to create an embryo inside the egg. An infertile egg contains only the hen’s genetic material, which means a chick can never hatch from that egg. The hen’s genetic material, termed the blastodisc, can be identified on infertile eggs as a light-colored dot with irregular borders. Every egg contains a blastodisc.

FERTILE EGGS

When an egg is fertilized by a rooster, the blastodisc becomes known as the blastoderm, which is the first stage of embryonic development. The blastoderm is identified by its bullseye appearance, having regular, concentric circles. The blastodisc will remain in a state of suspended animation, so to speak, forever unless warmed at particular temperatures for several hours. When a fertile egg is incubated under precise, steady temperatures and humidity levels for 21 days, the blastoderm may develop into a chick.

INCUBATED FERTILE EGG

A fertile egg must be kept at a temperature of at least 85°F for several hours in order for the blastodisc to begin developing into an embryo.

This fertile egg has been kept at the proper incubation temperature for 24 hours.
This fertile egg has been kept at the proper incubation temperature for 24 hours.

This fertile egg has been kept at the proper incubation temperature for 2 days.
This fertile egg has been kept at the proper incubation temperature for 2 days.

UN-INCUBATED FERTILE EGG

A fertile egg that is never incubated will never contain an embryo and will never look like anything other than common breakfast food.
A fertile egg that is never incubated will never contain an embryo and will never look like anything other than common breakfast food.Only fertile eggs that have been incubated under proper conditions can become an embryo. Freshly collected eggs can never contain a chick.

MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT FERTILE EGGS

MYTH: A fertile egg has a baby chick in it.
FACT: Freshly laid eggs can never contain a chick. Only fertile eggs that have been incubated under proper conditions can become an embryo and develop into a chick. To see exactly how an embryo develops, from the inside and out, each of the 21 days until it hatches, visit my blog here.

There is no scientific evidence that fertile eggs are nutritionally superior to infertile ones. Fertile eggs have remnants of the male's sperm and a small layer of cells that could form the embryo. The proportion of these to the total egg is so small that it is impossible to detect chemical differences between fertile and infertile eggs.
All chicks hatch alongside daffodils, don’t they?

MYTH: Fertile eggs are more nutritious than infertile eggs.
FACT: There is no scientific evidence that fertile eggs are nutritionally superior to infertile ones. Fertile eggs have remnants of the male’s sperm and a small layer of cells that could form the embryo. The proportion of these to the total egg is so small that it is impossible to detect chemical differences between fertile and infertile eggs.1
There is absolutely no flavor difference between fertile and infertile eggs.There is no scientific evidence that fertile eggs are nutritionally superior to infertile ones. Fertile eggs have remnants of the male’s sperm and a small layer of cells that could form the embryo. The proportion of these to the total egg is so small that it is impossible to detect chemical differences between fertile and infertile eggs.

MYTH: Fertile eggs taste different from infertile eggs.
FACT: There is absolutely no flavor difference between fertile and infertile eggs.
There is absolutely no flavor difference between fertile and infertile eggs.MYTH: A blood spot inside the egg means the egg is fertile.
FACT: A blood spot inside an egg can occur at various points in a hen’s reproductive system as a result of a blood vessel rupturing. It can be the result of a genetic predisposition, a vitamin A deficiency, or a random event. There is no correlation between blood spots and fertile eggs. The misconception may have come about due to the appearance of incubated, fertile eggs developing veins at or around day four into incubation. Veining looks nothing like a blood spot, however.
A blood spot inside an egg can occur at various points in a hen's reproductive system as a result of a blood vessel rupturing. It can be the result of a genetic predisposition, a vitamin A deficiency, or a random event. There is no correlation between blood spots and fertile eggs. The misconception may have come about due to the appearance of incubated, fertile eggs developing veins at or around day four into incubation. Veining looks nothing like a blood spot, however.The blood in the following photo of an unincubated egg is NOT a developing embryo. The blood has nothing to do with the egg being fertilized or not fertilized, it was caused by a glitch that occurred while the yolk was being released from the hen’s ovary and would have occurred whether or not a rooster mated with the hen that laid this egg.
The blood in the following photo of an unincubated egg is NOT a developing embryo. The blood has nothing to do with the egg being fertilized or not fertilized, it was caused by a glitch that occurred while the yolk was being released from the hen's ovary and would have occurred whether or not a rooster mated with the hen that laid this egg.MYTH: Candling an egg will reveal whether the egg is fertile or not. (Candling is the term used for shining a light through an eggshell to see what’s inside.)
FACT: Only eggs that are incubated and begin developing can be identified as fertile after a minimum of 3 days. The blastoderm and blastodisc cannot be seen through the shell. It is possible for an incubated egg to be fertile and appear infertile when candled if the egg failed to develop. The only way to determine whether an unincubated egg is fertile is to crack it open and identify the blastodisc or blastoderm.
Only eggs that are incubated and begin developing can be identified as fertile after a minimum of 3 days. The blastoderm and blastodisc cannot be seen through the shell. It is possible for an incubated egg to be fertile and appear infertile when candled if the egg failed to develop. The only way to determine whether an unincubated egg is fertile is to crack it open and identify the blastodisc or blastoderm.

This egg was candled after 4 days of incubation.
This egg was candled after 4 days of incubation.

Sources & further reading
1 http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/res04-consumer.html

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Comments

avatar
PluggerCat
Guest

Cloudy with no veins after several days means it's dead and infected with bacteria. Whether it was ever alive(fertile) is unclear.

Holly
Guest

Hi,

I bought some eggs from morrisons and I cracked one open and out falls a small red pouch that look like meat inside of it. What does this mean? This has happened once before.

TheChickenChick
Guest

Rarely. It is possible, but it's not often successful.

TheChickenChick
Guest

I would need to see the egg yolk.

dougrn
Guest
There are documented episodes of hens "crowing" I have had chickens my whole life. grew up on a big farm. never had one of ours do it. But there is evidenced it does happen. From what I know It is not common. It is usually the dominate hen. Not always but most of the time. If you are getting 8 eggs, then you are probably correct about having 8 hens. Very rarely do hens lay more then one egg a day. AS for being fertile, that is impossible if the chicken is a hen. It will never be a roo.… Read more »
Katherine Patricia Tilkins War
Guest
Katherine Patricia Tilkins War
I have what might be a crazy question. Yesterday I cracked open three eggs, 2 of them looked like they were fertile and one did not. .As far as I know I do not have a rooster,I have herd one of my chickens crow once but I watched her lay an egg. my question is can a egg look like its fertile and actually not be I did post a pic on face book on two chicken pages and many people agreed it was fertile,I have 8 chickens and twice last year I got 8 eggs in one day. I… Read more »
Mikey Pitre
Guest

How long can a cocks sperm live in the hen. How many eggs can she lay fertile from one encounter of a cock. Or do they have to mate daily for daily fertile eggs?

TheChickenChick
Guest

My pleasure. Happy Hatching, Melissa!

Melissa Adams
Guest

Thank you for your wonderful images of the fertile egg development. I am incubating about 52 eggs and it helps to know what stage they are at when I candle them. Super eggcited about this whole process. seeing them move for the first time made me cry. Lol anyways love your facebook page and all the adorable and funny pictures. Thank you again

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